Back and Forth

A Weekend at Cities, Social Media Q&A, and Interview with Jonathan Paranada (#1 US/CA)
“Get it together, Sorina!!”

Hello SixPrizes readers, and season’s greetings! I really appreciate having the chance to once again write for all of you, as I continue to find that my effort in writing about Pokémon has given me a way to reflect on the game and my performance within it. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t feel like my article last month was really up to par with what I’ve done in the past, or with what I consider myself capable of. I focused my discussion on a format about which I didn’t have much knowledge, and I believe that I ultimately failed to construct a rich discussion regarding one particular subject or another — which is a goal that I originally stated when I first began writing for SixPrizes.

Fear not, as I’ve got a lot to talk about this month. The beginning of Cities is always a great time (so many people find them to be the most enjoyable part of the season!) and I was able to attend a three-day mini-marathon in Portland, OR right after the Thanksgiving holiday. For the most part I had a great time, and I would like to reflect a bit on what I learned from my weekend getaway. I also threw out on my Twitter that I was willing to answer some questions, and several pretty relevant questions were asked! I’d like to answer them as a way to discuss the Standard format in particular, since my actual playing experience with it is so limited.

And finally, I bring to you an interview with the #1 ranked player in the U.S. and Canada, Jonathan Paranada. (JP is currently ranked as first on the online leaderboard, but he did point out that these rankings are quite variable during Cities.) One of the best ways to become a better player is by listening and learning from what really experienced players have to say. JP has been a great player for the past couple of seasons, but has managed to begin the 2015-2016 season with an outstanding record. JP had some very insightful things to say about the game, and I honestly learned a lot myself from talking with him. I hope that you find the interview illuminating!

And a simple caveat before we continue — if you’re here looking for a magical list or some super secret insider information, you’re in the wrong place! I don’t think I’ve ever branded myself as the type of SixPrizes writer that primarily focuses on lists, but it’s particularly obvious in this article that that’s not what I’m interested in sharing with all of you. This isn’t because I want to hide information or keep secrets. It’s actually the opposite, and I want to be as honest with my readers as possible. The recipe for success in Pokémon isn’t having a “perfect” list or any hidden tips or tricks, and producing lists just for the sake of having lists is counter-productive to my goals as a writer (and shouldn’t be something that, as readers, you would want in any case). With that in mind, I hope that you find this article to be informative, thought provoking, and interesting. As always, please call out any areas where I could improve!

Cities Prelude
And this is why you should visit the Pacific Northwest.

To be completely honest, Pokémon hasn’t been a very big focus in my life as of recently. To start off my season, I began by attending both Phoenix and Vancouver Fall Regionals, and I placed in the Top 8 at Vancouver. Fast-forward to a month after Regionals, and I had dropped the ball hard on testing or playing the game even casually — the only reason I had touched my cards was to shove them all into my nightstand drawer. In order to snap out of this funk, I made myself commit to going down to the Portland area for a mini-marathon that was taking place during the three-day weekend after Thanksgiving. Not only would it give me the opportunity to play in an extra tournament (there were only two in the Seattle area that weekend), but I figured that if I drove down to Portland I would be forced to show up to the events and actually play the game again.

Though I don’t think I’ve broken out of the “funk” completely, I believe that had I stayed home, I most likely wouldn’t have attended any Cities at all. On Thursday evening, after having had enough of the wonderful thing that is a family holiday, my good friend Kenny Wisdom and I drove down the 175 or so miles to Portland. We were able to discuss the metagame and what we were expecting on the way down. Thankfully our other good friend and gracious host, Jacob Van Wagner, had talked to us a bit about his local metagame and had given us a reference point for where to begin. Going into an unknown metagame for Cities can be pretty difficult, and the decision to go down to Oregon was a bit risky. Since most Cities tend to be smaller tournaments, one of the best ways to guarantee success is to metagame properly.

We went off of Jacob’s tip that the majority of the field was Vespiquen, and ultimately decided to play Night March with Archeops due to the deck’s consistency and its favorable matchup against Vespiquen and other decks with Evolutions.

Mini-Marathon Report

Kenny, Jacob, and I decided to play the exact same 60-card list for the first day of the mini-marathon. As far as strategy goes, it’s best to start off a marathon (or simply the beginning of Cities) with a list that you feel is very consistent. After the first day, you’ll have a much better idea of what the metagame looks like, and you’ll be better suited to teching your list and adjusting to what other players are doing.

Night March feat. Archeops

Pokémon – 17

4 Pumpkaboo PHF

4 Joltik PHF

4 Lampent PHF

2 Mew-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Archeops NVI

Trainers – 36

3 Professor Juniper

2 N

2 Lysandre

1 Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick


4 VS Seeker

4 Battle Compressor

4 Ultra Ball

4 Acro Bike

4 Trainers’ Mail

1 Muscle Band

1 Silver Bangle

1 Float Stone

1 Computer Search


4 Dimension Valley

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless

3 P

To give a quick rundown for anyone who needs to be caught up, the primary strategy of any Night March deck is to quickly get as many Pokémon with the Night March attack into the discard in order to have an explosive attack either your first or second turn. Depending on the matchup, you can then either attack with Joltik PHF, Pumpkaboo PHF, or use Mew-EX’s Versatile ability to copy the Night March attack. The draw engine for the deck is very consistent and speedy. You rely on a combination of Shaymin-EX ROS and Item cards in order to thin out your deck and get the required cards into the discard.

Including Archeops NVI isn’t difficult because the deck already plays the kind of engine that allows you to take advantage of Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, due to the heavy counts of Battle Compressor and VS Seeker. The deck also doesn’t include any Evolutions or other cards that are difficult to get rid of. The relatively low Supporter count is also essential in being able to make those Maxie plays.

I’m going to first go over what happened on each day of the mini-marathon, and end with some thoughts on how I think I could have performed better and the changes I would have made to the deck if I were able to redo the tournaments.

Day 1: Epic Games — Milwaukie, OR

R1 vs. Vespiquen AOR 10/Jirachi XY67W
R2 vs. Tyrantrum-EX/Giratina-EX AOR/Bronzong PHFL
R3 vs. Night March/Archeops NVIW
R4 vs. M Rayquaza-EX ROS 76/Shaymin-EX ROSW
R5 vs. M Mewtwo-EX BKT 64L
R6 vs. Yveltal XY/Raichu XY/Crobat PHFT

3-2-1; 19th place

m mewtwo-ex breakthrough bkt 64
A surprising play!

The first four rounds of my first Cities made me feel pretty confident, but I found that I was starting to get extremely tired once round five came along. I stopped paying as close attention to my games and managed to lose to M Mewtwo-EX BKT 64 and tie against a deck that is completely Evolution based. I think that both of these matchups are favored for the Night March player if he or she is able to get out Archeops NVI early in the game. Unfortunately I mostly forgot about that important piece of my deck because I was tired and chose to focus on simply getting enough Night Marchers in the discard. This just speaks to how important it is to rest up the day before a tournament, especially if a low-quality rest or a small amount of sleep really affects your ability to play well. I truly believe that my missteps the last two rounds were due to being too tired to focus properly on the games at hand.

The matchup against Tyrantrum/Giratina/Bronzong can go in so many different directions. Archeops can be helpful if you get it out before they manage to evolve into Bronzong, but even then getting locked out of your Stadiums, Tools, and Special Energy makes it a very difficult game. Giratina with a Muscle Band 1-shots every attacker on your field, and this makes breaking the Stadium/Special Energy lock incredibly difficult. In my match, I was unable to put our Archeops before my opponent evolved into Bronzong. He was then able to chain Chaos Wheel several times in a row, and I was unable to catch up as I could neither attach Double Colorless Energy nor use Dimension Valley to attack using one P Energy. The key to beating this matchup is to have a turn where your opponent is unable to use Chaos Wheel, and the best way to do that is to prevent Bronzong from making an appearance and by including Energy removal — in this case, I would play Enhanced Hammer. However, if you think your area is going to be largely inundated with Giratina, I would resist from playing Night March altogether as the matchup is not favorable.

I was glad to have a slightly-better-than-even record for my first Cities, but wanted to do better for my second day. I thought about putting in an Enhanced Hammer for any mirror matches or if I faced Giratina-EX AOR again, but in the end I didn’t think it would have had a wide enough usage in order to merit the space in the deck. Donphan PLS and Vespiquen AOR 10 were the first- and second-place decks, respectively, and third and fourth place were filled out by two Mega Evolvution Pokémon. Considering all of the Evolutions that made Top 4, I decided it would be a good bet to play Archeops NVI again the next day — and to do a better job in terms of resting up!

Day 2: Dice Age Games — Vancouver, WA

R1 vs. Vileplume AOR/Miltank FLFL
R2 vs. Night March — W
R3 vs. Sceptile-EX/Crobat PHFL
R4 vs. M Gallade-EXW
R5 vs. Tyrantrum-EX/Giratina-EX AOR/Bronzong PHFW
R6 vs. M Rayquaza-EX ROS 76/Shaymin-EX ROSW

4-2; 14th place

The cutest bane of my existence.

I once again faced the kind of decks that I wanted to see (i.e. Evolutions) but my inability to put out Archeops when I really needed it ended up really hurting. I managed to go first in the Vileplume matchup, which is really the most you can hope for. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get out Archeops on my first turn, and was slowly crushed by Miltank after my opponent succeeded in putting together the Irritating Pollen lock.

Similarly, I wasn’t able to get together Archeops against Sceptile/Crobat either. I was even afforded several turns as my opponent was slow to set up his Crobat lines, but in the end I wasn’t successful with Maxie and the Crobat damage ended up being too much for my low-HP Pokémon.

The risk with Night March is exactly almost all of your attackers have very little HP. If you play Archeops and successfully bench it, some of your worst matchups suddenly become very good. But that’s another risk in it of itself. Additionally, most of your attackers are going to end up in the discard pile, and it’s difficult to strike the right balance between how many attackers you keep in your deck vs. how many you end up discarding. I think that the deck is fun to pilot and can be incredibly strong, but at certain points you might get unlucky — something to which a fragile deck such as Night March is particularly weak.

Day 3: Pokérus

I managed to pick up a stomach bug that left me incapacitated, so I decided to stay home instead of attempting to slog through another day of six rounds. It was a good choice!

Cities Roundup

maxie's hidden ball trick 133 text 2
Maxie’s should have been the primary focus of my strategy in a field full of Evolutions.

Overall I believe our deck choice was a smart idea for these Cities, but I don’t know that we executed it properly. Jacob and Kenny played the same list on Saturday as well as on Sunday, and each managed a Top 8 with it. Though I can’t talk for either of them, I think I would have seen more success had the list focused more on Archeops. Considering the frequency of Evolution decks that I was expecting, I think a list that is geared more toward getting Archeops out would have fared me better. For that kind of added consistency, I would have added at least one Jirachi-EX, which I believe could easily replace the Float Stone in the deck without causing too much disruption.

Similarly, there were several plays I made that could have been more aggressive, but on which I hesitated. For example, against Vileplume AOR, I had a hand that I could get down to one card and then play a Shaymin-EX to Set Up for five. I took the safe route and decided to keep N as my last card (for fear of not having a Supporter) when I could have kept an Ultra Ball instead. Though the Ultra Ball wouldn’t have guaranteed a Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick for Archeops NVI, it would have given me more outs to that play. What I didn’t realize at the time is that the Vileplume matchup completely hinges on getting out Archeops on the first turn. Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether or not you have a Supporter that turn, because you’re most likely going to be blocked from executing any strategy regardless.

The key thing to remember with Night March is that it’s an aggressive deck that’s also very fragile. It’s hard to know when to reel it back in after having had several explosive turns, but the crucial step is only going so far when you need to. In some matchups, that’s going to be extremely aggressive. In others, it might mean that you’ll need to play the deck in a more toned-down fashion. I’m glad I’ve been able to play Night March more than before, as I’ve begun to enjoy its intricacies the more that I play it.

An Aside on Working My Way Back

It’s been difficult for me to want to continue playing Cities when I’ve been enjoying my free weekends so much more. I used to love Cities, but now they feel more like a chore. Though I do plan to play more Cities this year, the reason I only have a small tournament report for you all is because I’ve only played in two so far! There were two other Cities this weekend I could have attended, but I decided to go out and buy and decorate a Christmas tree instead.

It’s also difficult for me to discuss the Standard format because I am so inexperienced with it. I have a basic knowledge of how it works, but it’s impossible to give a good opinion without having actually played. I had originally believed that most of Seattle’s Cities were going to be held in the Standard format, but it looks like about 75% of our Cities are actually Expanded. I do understand that a lot of readers would like more information on Standard, but I don’t want to give out any information that is misleading or plainly false. You’ll just have to wait for an article by an author who’s done some Standard testing or actually played in a Standard tournament!

In any case, I’m going to try my best to get back into the game. Not just for the sake of my SixPrizes articles, but for my own sake as well. It’s very important to remember that Cities can make up the bulk of your invite, so even if it feels like a chore, it’s important to rack up some points.

Tweet Me! Questions & Answers

pidgey mail 16-9Bulbapedia
I always love hearing from readers and players alike!

I wanted to open up my article to any questions that might be floating around right with the beginning of Cities. A lot can seem daunting or confusing when the metagame is just starting to take shape, so I hope my insight will give you some ideas for how to think about the questions posed.

Standard Format

Regirock or Gallade in Yveltal? @RandomVGC

This is completely dependent on your metagame! Both versions of the deck are viable, but if you have a lot of Manectric-EX in your area, you should figure out a way to take care of it, or else it’ll run through your Yveltal-EX quite easily. Regirock is a simple way to counter Manectric-EX without devoting too many resources of your deck to the counter.

Why aren’t more people playing Trevenant/Gengar-EX?@JoshuaFricke

I’m not entirely sure, but it’s most likely due to its Darkness Weakness. I still believe that Item lock could be incredibly powerful in Standard, so don’t be afraid to try it out!

Expanded Format

Is Vespiquen the only deck to play in Expanded?@FlareStarfire

No way. The Seattle-area metagame is a little bit “special” because we have almost no Vespiquen (I don’t even think one has managed to Top 8 in the past four tournaments), so I’m definitely going to say no. There are also some pretty easy counters to the deck in Expanded. I found that Night March/Archeops NVI made the matchup relatively easy despite my opponent even playing Jirachi XY67. It depends on the Vespiquen build in particular, but from my point of view it’s the only deck NOT to play in Expanded.

Is Seismitoad-EX dead?@RandomVGC

In Standard, yes. It doesn’t have Hypnotoxic Laser or Virbank City Gym to help its damage output. But overall, I think that Seismitoad-EX is still a viable contender for Expanded Cities. I see that Vespiquen is really big in a lot of areas, so in that case it wouldn’t be the wisest play, but depending on your area Seismitoad/Crobat could be a great deck choice.

General Inquiries

What do you think is the biggest mistake that new players make?@kwisdumb

I mentioned this a little bit in my introduction, but I think new players tend to rely too much on specific information (for example, tips/tricks and “secret” decklists) rather than focusing on and learning skills and behaviors that will continue to help them for the rest of their competitive careers. It’s more beneficial to a player that’s just starting out to build up a general, broader skillset that they can then apply to individual games.

I also discussed some of these questions with JP, so thanks to him for helping me figure out my thoughts — especially when it came to the Standard format!

Interview with Jonathan Paranada (#1 US/CA)

Thanks to Doug Morisoli for the photo!

I’m really glad to have been able to interview my friend JP for this article. He’s been a consistently good player for the past two years, and I also believe him to be one of the smartest players in the game. His competitive achievements have really taken off this season, with a first-place finish in Vancouver and runner-up placement in Arizona, as well as a recent City Championship win. We talked over Skype in order to try to get down to the bottom of his newfound success!

Sorina: Can you tell me a little bit about your history in Pokémon? How long have you been playing, what are you achievements outside of this season, and what’s your relationship with the game in general?

JP: Sure. Well, for any given tournament I’ve been playing longer than most of the people there, but I’m not an “old-timer.” Sam Chen actually got me into the game and we played a little in college. I graduated in 2010, and then a little after that — I don’t know how he got in contact with me again — we went to some small tournaments and I think I actually did go to Nationals 2011. I think that was my first big tournament. The thing is, from 2011-2013 I wasn’t very good. I wasn’t awful; I understood that you needed certain draw and search cards and I never built something with 20 Energy in it.

I guess my relationship with the game kind of changed once I moved to Seattle. I had a bigger network of people to test with and bounce ideas around with, which I thought was important — I have a nice team to share ideas with, get reports from.

Sorina: You lived in New Jersey previously?

JP: Yeah, I was in New Jersey. And then in early 2013, I moved to Seattle. And so the 2013-2014 season, that was my first season that I was doing well. I think that was the year that I got 190 points off of Cities, so that was pretty cool. Three firsts and one second, so that was the first time where I felt like, I’m not completely incompetent. Like all the time I put into this game paid off. 2014 I got Top 4 at States, and then I made Day 2 at Worlds through Day 1.

And I guess I’ve been testing a lot, I get people together to test, and I’ve been writing more tournament reports for my team, and I’ve build a lot of decks physically. Slowly I’ve been getting more and more serious. I’m pretty competitive just as a general mindset, but I actually had the activity to match that desire in the past two years. And that’s kind of where I’m at right now. Still pretty hungry for success — I’ve had some recent success, but I still feel like it’s questionable. Am I really a great player, or did I just have a good run? And no one’s ever really posed that question to me and said, “Oh, I don’t think you’re that good,” but it’s more of a question I’m asking myself. Is this a permanent thing, or is this just really an exceptional year for me, and why is that?

Sorina: I think consistency is a really interesting question when it comes to Pokémon, so I definitely want to talk about that more at some point and try to figure out how an individual or how the player base thinks about a “good” player.

So what have been your accomplishments to date this season?

JP: I’ve played two LCs, two Regionals, and two Cities, and I’ve only not gotten points off of one of those tournaments — that was the one LC I went x-1. Regionals I got second and then first, and then Cities I got top four and then first, and one more LC where I got first. So that’s six tournaments for a total of 380 points.

Sorina: That’s insane.

JP: And then I also have 40 points from Day 2 at Worlds, I guess if you count that. So yeah, that is pretty insane, and that’s not something that even the best players say, “Oh yeah, I should definitely be at this point by now,” or “That’s something I should easily be able to do,” and I recognize that for sure. I’m kind of in awe, but I’m happy — I don’t feel like I just sacked my way into it, as I worked pretty hard, but at the same time I realize that hard work can only get you so far. Something definitely very interesting’s going on right now, but I’ll take it. I’m not complaining.

Sorina: It is interesting to think about. In terms of my relationship with you, I’ve always thought of you as a really good player, and you have done well in the past — but not this well. And very few people end up doing this well. Do you think that it’s something you can count on to continue? How would you feel if suddenly, for the rest of the season, you just did poorly at every single event?

JP: Well, I have thoughts about this. This is kind of what I’m trying to think about as I continue to test and play the rest of my tournaments. I feel like at the beginning of the season, I was doing as well as I normally did. But then I got second at Arizona, and I was pretty stoked — I was over the moon — I hadn’t done so well at a big tournament. I thought this is finally my break, and at least I could say, even if I end up quitting down the road, that I did this pretty cool thing and I’m pretty proud of it. And then going into Vancouver, I didn’t think, “Oh, I’m gonna take this one.” Actually, in Arizona we were really sure of our deck choice — that was Blastoise — and then Tyrantrum, that was very unsure. Paul [Johnston] was very sure about that, but I just decided to do it because there was something charming about it. And then I ended up winning that, and I thought that this was really something!

From that point on, there’s a lot of ways you can deal with that success. You recognize that it’s some combination of in-game skill, and deck building, and picking the right deck, and variance. But after all that stuff, there’s actually a lot of strength to believing that a big part of this (maybe not all of it) is actually because I am a good player. And I do deserve success and I should go into tournaments trying to achieve success. I think that’s something more than just opinion, it’s actually a positive mindset that can sort-of help you win.

And I don’t say this just because of my own season, but there have actually been several other players who weren’t the #1 technically, or #1 in deck building, or any of that stuff. But with a little bit of success I think, they would believe, “I really am pretty good,” and “I think I can win more,” and they did. And I think that’s happened enough times where I don’t think that’s coincidence, I actually think that that’s a winning mentality that is pretty beneficial. I think that’s a lot stronger than selling yourself short. There’s a difference between overestimating your ability and being confident. I feel like you can still recognize all of the areas you have for self-improvement and at the same time say, “Yes, I am good. I am capable of winning this tournament.”

Sorina: That’s really insightful and I think that that’s not something a lot of people talk about when it comes to strategies for doing better. Do you think that it’s the confidence boost that it gives you as a player, or a level of validation, or is it just a positive mentality?

JP: I think it can be translated into a more tangible, in-game benefit. It’s the difference between the player that still thinks they have a chance, who’s looking for those outs, looking at the percentages no matter how small, versus someone who thinks, “Right now, I’m not doing so well, I’m in a losing position, I think this is pretty much over.” I think that’s one of the decision points where that confidence is actually going to put you over the top. You know — trying to play to all your outs, and I feel like you’ll see that more if you really still think you’re in it no matter what. And a lot of times, you know, you’re going to fail, but it’s more bound to give you the edge than it isn’t. And I do feel there are some players that are otherwise good that fold pretty easily when they think they don’t stand a chance. “I don’t mind if I lose” — that’s one mentality, that’s acceptable to have but if you are trying to play to win, then it is beneficial to say “I can still be in this.” Not in just that one game, but in all your games. And that overall will lead to higher percentages of success.

Sorina: In addition to this, what are some other things that you believe have been beneficial to your success? Not necessarily this season, but in general, in comparison to before 2013.

JP: There’s a lot of things. I’ve been pretty fortunate that a lot of elements of success fell into place for me. I have resources, both time and money, for the game. Access to top players is really helpful, being on a team, bouncing around ideas, but even access to other random players is really helpful. People in the area are pretty good, whenever you play them it’s pretty interesting and you have to think, so that’s always useful. And then my own personal drive and attitude toward the game. I take it pretty seriously, I expect a lot of myself, I do a report for every tournament I play. Just really taking the time to reflect on more than just “the tournament’s done now,” but really taking everything as a learning experience. Making sure you get everything you could have out of those rounds against other people.

I built a competitive gauntlet of decks, I have around 16 decks that I can play with at any moment. I usually play against people, but sometimes I playtest against myself. Which might not work so well if you’re just starting out, but at a certain point I feel like that’s useful. PTCGO can get pretty mindless after a while, more likely than not it won’t actually be that great of a game, so I’ve sort of given up on that. I’d rather just play two decks against myself, I feel like I’ll learn more that way. It’s just the drive of wanting to practice.

Something I wanted to get into, actually. When it comes to trying to break into a competitive field but you’re not an expert, how do you do well? The idea is basically that you must have something that gives you an edge over people. So there’s all these competencies in Pokémon, there’s deck building, metagaming, and all that stuff, and some people are really good at it. And I acknowledge that I’m not the best in any of those areas, and I accept that. But what do I actually have an edge on? And it turns out that that’s just the ability to grind through everything and brute-force my way through it. I’m trying to focus more on my strengths, so that just means a lot of grinding, a lot of deck building, a lot of testing and that’s how I’m gonna try to angle my success. It’s gonna be different for everyone.

Sorina: I think it’s important to be able to reflect on what it is that gives you that edge and then continue to work on it, and considering you’ve found your niche — it’s not that you won’t continue to work on the other things, but at least you know that this is something you can do to make yourself better.

We were talking about this earlier a little bit — I think it’s a hard discussion in Pokémon. But it’s hard to rank people based on good vs. great vs. best of all time, etc. Since it is a game based on luck, people do look for consistency in players. Do you think that’s important when it comes to judging how good someone is at the game?

JP: Absolutely. I would go so far as to say that it’s the only thing. It’s a statistical thing based on the sample size of your tournaments. And it changes too, you might have figured out a certain format but as the game evolves, can you keep up with that as well? And some players are able to do that, and that’s another important skill to have. So not only the repeatability of results, but being able to keep up with an evolving game really shows that. So yeah, consistency is everything. And people that are able to get to the top 32 [in North America] year after year, that’s really commendable. So hopefully I’ll be there at some point, we’ll see.

Sorina: I think there’s something to be said about getting better over time, and I guess only time will tell as to whether anyone makes it into “the greatest of all time.” It’s interesting to see how we judge people based on whether their performance has steadily increased or whether it’s here and there.

JP: The one thing I did want to touch on that is really important is that mental aspect of not psyching yourself out, the idea that your good luck is bound to run out. I started to grapple with that a little bit after I did well at Regionals. I think that it’s a really strong skill to not get nervous, to not over-analyze or under-analyze. I think the greatest players don’t constantly psyche themselves out over every tournament, thinking, “Oh man, this isn’t gonna work for me anymore at some point.” I feel like they’re confident not only going in, but coming off a loss as well. Some of it is variance, but I think they recognize that and don’t take it as a personal flaw.

Sorina: So one last question — if they decide to keep the Day 2 structure for Worlds, are you going to aim for Day 2?

JP: Yes, I actually think I’d be a little disappointed if I did not make Day 2 to be honest. I set my expectations really high and my exceptions for second and first at Regionals, well this where you should be at. And if you fall short, in some way you’ll have failed. Then again, I’m not gonna be super depressed if I miss. But that’s where my expectations are. I tend to set them reasonable, but pretty high. And I feel like it’s reasonable to expect that I’ll make it. So I’m playing harder than ever, if I go into an LC I want to win it, if I go into a City, I want to win it. I know some players think winning an LC means nothing, but that’s not how the tournament structure is set up. You win an LC and you get 15 points, and that’s 15 more points toward a Day 2 invite. So I’m just going to be as competitive as ever, maybe even more so because now I think it’s a really reasonable thing for me to hit. I think I’ve been testing more since my Regionals run, and not less. I feel like this is my year, and I know that some of that was luck, but now that I’ve been presented with this opportunity, it would be foolish to not take and really make the most. So I’m trying to be one of top.

Sorina: Well, I wish you the best of luck, and I hope to see you soon!


Thanks again for reading all the way to the bottom! One of my favorite things to reflect on is how to improve as a player, perhaps in a more abstract ways, and I know that’s something I’ve discussed in previous articles. I believe that learning how to improve is one of the key benefits that comes from being in a competitive environment such as Pokémon. I hope you all enjoyed what I had to say, and ideally you’ve extracted some pearls of wisdom from JP’s interview as well. I wish everyone the best of luck at Cities, and until next time!

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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